During my childhood in Kansas City, Missouri, the long, white, Russell Stover boxes showed up around the house on a regular basis. I always thought that Russell Stover was a Kansas City company. And indeed it was—it was purchased in 1969 by Louis Ward, a Kansas City businessman. My father confirmed that the purchase was seen as a big deal in Kansas City circles.
Yet Russell Stover began in 1923 as Mrs. Stover’s Bungalow Candies, operated out of Russell and Clara Stover’s home in Denver. Given how much I love chocolate, it’s as if moving to Denver twenty-one years ago was a return to my origins.
If you love chocolate, you understand.
Now, according to its website, Russell Stover is “the largest producer of fine boxed chocolates in the United States.” It has three stores in the Denver Metro area, one in Arvada, one in Lakewood, and a candy kitchen and ice cream parlor at 625 South Colorado.
But I didn’t visit a Russell Stover’s location. Instead, I walked up to King Soopers near my house in Broomfield and bought two six-chocolate boxes, “Origin Select Assorted Chocolates” and “Urban Modern World Chocolates.” Pretty fancy, eh? I liked all the Origin Select chocolates except the almond nougat, though the caramels were a little too chewy. The Urban chocolates were very pretty. The soft caramel had a blue bottom, which was cool, though I did wonder what unnatural dyes went into making that color, and the pistachio nougat definitely grew on me. I liked the dark chocolate squares in both boxes.
King Soopers is getting better about selling chocolate besides Hershey’s, but I haven’t seen chocolates by any of the chocolatiers I discussed earlier in this series. Or from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which brings me to my next subject.
I seriously thought about not including Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in this series. It’s such a big company, with franchises throughout the United States and in Guam, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates. Even Russell Stover doesn’t make it past Canada.
But that’s a pretty stupid reason to exclude a company. After all, they have stores throughout Denver, including two on the 16th Street Mall (in Writer Square and Pavilions).
And if I’m going to include Enstrom, which originated in Grand Junction, then I should include RMCF, which started in Durango.
Many times, when I’m on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver or the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder, I’ve stopped in at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for one of their super-large truffles, easily twice the size of most other truffles. I make a habit of visiting the Boulder store after going to the Boulder Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays or Saturdays.
The company website chronicles how founder Frank Crail and friends learned how to make truffles on a ping-pong table. Eventually they realized the truffles were oversized, but that has become a store trademark.
The last time I went to the Boulder store, I bought café au lait, ancho chili, coco loco cream, maple walnut cream, a sugar-free coffee meltaway, and a sugar-free raspberry meltaway. My favorites were the coco loco cream, which was a little crunchy because of the coconut bits inside, and the maple walnut cream, which was very rich.
I don’t think I like RMCF truffles as much as I liked Roberta’s, and they aren’t as imaginative as the truffles at Wen Chocolates, but they’re still a good chocolate fix.
And there are always the apples dipped in all kinds of coatings, and the fudge that they make in the store.
On Thursday I’ll post comparisons of the various chocolatiers and their products, and then I shall lay the chocolate theme to rest.